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UNO Equestrian team: Reining in the competition

Art Director

Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 16:12


Photo courtesy of UNO Equestrian Club

Kelly Davis practices her English riding skills.

English riding boots may be one of fall’s most popular trends, but for Kelly Davis they’re not just a fashion statement - they’re her uniform. Davis is president of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Equestrian Team and one of its English division competitors.

The team’s 20 members compete against 13 other schools in both English and Western competitions. English riders are judged on their ability to ride the horse over fences and around flat areas of the arena. Competitors in the Western division must walk, trot and lope their horse for the judges. The Western division also has a reining patterns competition where riders guide their horses through a series of spins, turns and stops.

Each school provides horses for the riders to compete on. This relieves teams of some of the financial burden of purchasing and caring for the horses on a day-to-day basis. However, Davis says it is challenging to use a different horse for every competition.

The rider is judged on the way they interact with the horse from the moment they first see it in the arena.

“It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. You have no idea what horse you’re getting,” Davis said.

Davis said the schools do a good job of providing horses that are calm and well-trained. She said the worst thing that’s ever happened to her in the arena was when her horse decided to stop in the middle of an exercise.

The team recently competed in its first competition of the year at Colby Community College. Davis was proud of the way the team finished, with each competitor placing at least once.

“They did really well considering it was the first show of the year,” Davis said.

The team practices at Elkhorn Equestrian Center. They have both an English and a Western coach who donate their time to get the team ready for competition. Each team member is required to have at least one lesson per week to be eligible for competition.

One group of girls has weekly practices together on Saturday mornings. Davis said this allows the team to bond together, even though they are competing against each other.

Davis described the team as a group of students that comes together with a common interest and a common goal.

“We are a team. We think of ourselves as a team,” she said.

Davis is hopeful this year, with a larger number of returning members, that the team can raise enough money to pay for their out-of-pocket expenses. Each team member is responsible for paying for their own gas, food and lodging when they travel to competitions.

Any UNO student or faculty member that is an alumni of the university can join the Equestrian team. Davis said joining the team is a great way for people to learn how to ride or continue their passion for horses.

The next meeting of the UNO Equestrian team will be held on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in HPER room 101. For more information about joining the team, email

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